***Slight spoiler alert***

The devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino is the first Japanese thriller I've read. It's become a bit of a cult read in Japan, where it sold over 2 million copies, and spawned a film adaptation. It's a classy and unusual read, with a great twist in the tail.

Maths genius Ishigami comes to the rescue when his neighour, the attractive Yasuko kills her abusive ex-husband. Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo police quickly comes to suspect Yasuko, but with a seemingly water-tight alibi, he's unable to pin the murder on her. Ishigami's plans start to fall apart though when Kusanagi's old-friend the physicist Yukawa, who happens to be a former classmate of Ishigami, begins to suspect that the case is a whole lot more complex than it first appears...

I thoroughly enjoyed this thriller. It's brilliantly well written, and one of the most cleverly constructed crime novels I've ever read. The characterisation, although not particularly deep, is generally good. But what really shines here is the construction of the plot, which suddenly takes you off at a tangent you had never suspected was going to be there. Very clever, I can see both why it was such a popular read in Japan, and why it was adapted for film. As  I suspect it would make an excellent film / TV programme.

The cover of my volume trumpets Higashino as the Japanese Stieg Larsson. He's not, he's very different from Larsson. It is a very dark novel, and so has much in common with Nordic Noir, but it owes rather more to the psychological novels of Simenon and Highsmith. I have no idea whether anything else of Keigo Higashino's has been translated into English, but I would love to read more from the pen of this innovative author.


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